In an ideal world, we would all have expert proof-readers and editors at our disposal, waiting to go over manuscripts and articles as soon as we’re done writing and that, too, for free. Alas! As we all know, the world is anything but ideal. Getting a professional to edit or proofread a document can end up costing you a pretty penny. As a result, most of us have to rely on our own wits and abilities to proofread material. Just because you are not a professional editor does not mean you can do a shoddy job and be okay about it. Any lapses during the proofreading or editing phase can have severe consequences. Here are 7 tips that professional proof-readers and editors wouldn’t normally share with you.
Split writing and proofreading with a break
A very common mistake is to start proofreading as soon as you have finished writing. By the time you are done writing, you brain is overworked, tired and in no condition to proofread properly. Take a break after writing and come back refreshed and rejuvenated. With your mind clear, you are likely to do a much better job. If you don’t take a break, it is likely you will overlook some errors that your brain made just a few minutes ago.
Read it out loud to yourself
People often wonder what the best way is to perfect sentence structuring. Honestly, the answer is as simple as reading the material out loud. When you are silently reading a long article, after some point, you just go with the flow and can end up overlooking any awkward sentences. The best way to prevent this from happening is to read out loud and listen how the sentences sound as you speak. If it sounds a bit awkward, chances are it makes for awkward reading as well.
Once is never enough
So, you have finally gone through the entire manuscript. Don’t start patting your own back too soon; that was just the first time you went over the material. Good proofreading and editing does not rely upon a single glance; you have to revisit the content to make sure you have gotten it right the first time.
‘Edit’ does not mean ‘rewrite’
Getting carried away, while editing, is a sin that many are guilty of. You start off by making a correction here and inserting a note there. The next thing you know, the pen in your hand has become a knife and you have become Brutus; the poor manuscript is nothing more than the hapless Julius Caesar. Theatrics aside, the point to be made is that editing should not be mistaken for rewriting. The challenge for editors is to maintain the original writing style and convey the message the author intends to, even while making corrections and changing things around.
Follow these 4 simple steps and you should be able to proofread and edit your own work with confidence. If you ever have any doubts, there are many websites and online forums catering to editors; use their resources to make yourself an even better editor.
Nathan Manning is a freelance writer and author of this post. He helps share useful writing tips along with helping students achieve their essay writing deadlines.